Christina Synowiec

Just How Healthy Are Impact Investments in Health?: Building a new set of metrics to evaluate health firms, and how you can shape them

More than $500 billion could be invested in initiatives that generate social and environmental impact over the next five to 10 years – with health likely to be a large sector of focus. What if we could measure the outcome of these investments and identify which companies are having the most impact?

That’s the point of a partnership between the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) and the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) initiative of the Global Impact Investing Network. The organizations are developing standard definitions for social and financial performance metrics commonly tracked by health care organizations serving low-income communities. The goal is to provide a tool for impact investors, funders and program implementers to identify companies having the most impact.

To ensure that the metrics are broadly relevant, well defined and feasible for health enterprises to report against, we are asking the NextBillion community and others implementing, funding or studying health care enterprises to provide feedback on the draft metrics during our open comment period, or by December 2013. Click here to view the metrics.

The IRIS/CHMI catalogue of metrics will be available free, so investors and investees can select and use those that are relevant and most useful for their organizations’ goals. The group developing the metrics included impact investors such as the Abraaj Group and Acumen.

“The health metrics developed by IRIS and CHMI provide better guidance on how we can evaluate the impact of our health investments as well as the collective impact of the broader health care market delivering much-needed products and services to the poor,” said Christine Kapkusum, who manages Acumen’s Health Portfolio in East Africa.

The metrics are focused on three core performance dimensions. When used together, the metrics selected can provide a full picture of the performance of a health organization.

In recognition that there is no single combination of metrics that is right for every organization, this set is designed to serve as a catalogue that investors and investees can use to select the most appropriate measurement standards for their work.

The current draft of metrics were designed by an expert working group convened jointly by IRIS and CHMI, composed of practitioners, impact investors, donors and others with health implementation and metrics design expertise. This includes representatives from CHMI programs like World Health Partners and PSI, which are active participants in our Reported Results Initiative, and the investor community. The group reviewed best practices in performance measurement, drawing from sources such as the World Health Organization and the World Bank, and also solicited input from other program managers and funders.

Your feedback will be invaluable to shaping the final product – to be shared in January 2014 – and developing a common metrics set to create benchmarks, identify successful models and help funding flow to effective, innovative health care programs. For more information on this initiative, view this overview document.

CHMI’s open comment period, being held in parallel to IRIS’ open comment period for their impact investor community, will be crucial to ensuring the clarity, usability and feasibility of the metrics.

We welcome your comments on this tool to measure impact across health care organizations.

Christina Synowiec works on analytical products for the Center for Health Market Innovations.

Environment, Health Care, Investing
impact investing, public health, venture capital